The Differences Between Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes

Happy Assisted Living Senior

It is not unusual for people to wish to remain “at home” for as long as possible in their later life, but there may come a time when it is too isolating or even a bit unsafe. For example, a loved one who is unsteady on their feet, facing some medical challenges, or just a bit lonely is at risk if they live alone without visitors on a daily basis. That is why an assisted living arrangement is often appealing.

There are different ways assisted living can operate, with some sites providing an all-inclusive experience and others functioning more along the lines of nursing homes. It is important to understand the differences between those two ends of the spectrum and determine if the kinds of personalized services and access to a registered nurse or other professional are what is needed.

Senior living options vary widely and so we’ll begin with some basic definitions of assisted living facilities versus traditional nursing homes.

How Are They Alike?

One of the wisest “first steps” is to look at how both senior housing options are similar as it helps to clarify just how much they also differ. For example, both are full-time housing and not a form of temporary living arrangement. They both include:

  • Enrichment – They both go beyond basics and ensure that people are both mentally and physically healthy. Often calling scheduled activities a form of “enrichment,” they include everything from crafts to socializing and physical exercise.
  • Medications – A major trait they share is that, whether an all-inclusive or not, both offer personalized services where medication management is concerned. Taking the right medications and taking the right amounts are two huge issues, and while some feel it is only a registered nurse who can help, there are options in both assisted living and nursing homes for the management of medication routines.
  • Safety – Though the way that security and safety operate in the two different kinds of senior living vary widely, they both ensure the security and safety of residents. All-inclusive sites may have gated entries and security cameras that are similar to any sort of housing area, but there are also the “safety” options like emergency call buttons, bathrooms fully equipped with grab bars and handrails, and more.
  • Nutrition – Both types of community ensure that people enjoy three balanced meals each day, and always according to their needs. This is ideal for seniors who might tend to under-eat, overeat, skip meals, or run the risk of trouble when cooking.
  • Support – Whether it is an all-inclusive option that provides personalized services such as housekeeping and cooking or broader support such as help with laundry and transportation, both styles of senior housing offer plenty of support.

Additionally, both will offer help with what are known as activities of daily living, but to different degrees. For example, a nursing home is far more likely to focus on bathing, grooming, and dressing as well as more personalized services like feeding oneself, toileting, and getting in or out of bed.

With assisted living, there may be some measure of that level of support, but there is often far more self-sufficiency and independence. The person in assisted living may need help with meal preparations, shopping, and housekeeping, as well as issues like medication management, but not often help with toileting or bathing.

Now that you understand their similarities, it is time to consider how they differ, and as one expert said, the key “differences between these two types of senior housing centers revolve around medical services provided and the physical plant of each community.”

As an explanation, the assisted living facility may have visits from a registered nurse on a regular basis, while the nursing home is fully staffed (24 hours per day) with a medical team and other supplementary care providers such as occupational therapists or respiratory experts.

The physical differences in the facilities can be dramatic, and while nursing homes have more institutional or even hospital-like design, the all-inclusive assisted living facilities can have more of a group home or apartment building feel, with everyone having a private room or shared room, bath and community areas.

If you or a loved one is eager for the kinds of personalized services, all-inclusive setting, and attentive care of an assisted living arrangement, Heidi’s Haven, in Leesburg, FL is a great choice. Offering beautifully furnished and decorated rooms, daily activities, nutritional meals, attentive care from a registered nurse and local doctor, and more, it is an authentic all-inclusive facility.


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